Samsung’s New DVRs

Dave Zatz —  February 10, 2015 — 38 Comments

samsung-smart-dvr

Via regulatory filings, Steve Donohue has turned up a new Samsung DVR. Given its specs, including Zigbee and MoCA 2.0, this set-top is presumably destined for a MSO partner like Time Warner Cable. However, possibly more interesting is the box turned up by tipster Alex D on Flickr.

Pictured above, the Samsung “Smart Cable DVR” looks to be a retail product and the successor or up-sell to the Smart Media Player introduced in 2013. Whereas the Player tuned a single cable channel, this newer product is a 4-tuner DVR. Further, as an app platform, Samsung touts universal search capabilities, à la TiVo, and by leveraging their broader consumer electronics product line, the Smart DVR also optionally integrates Samsung’s wireless audio system.

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The OTA Flatenna Showdown

Dave Zatz —  February 7, 2015 — 23 Comments

hdtv-antennas

As many contemplate cutting the cord for basic, yet high-definition television viewing, or to perhaps augment cable with advanced over-the-air capabilities, as we’ve done with Tablo, finding a great antenna is paramount. Most are probably best served by roof-top or attic placement, yet it’s the least practical for a variety of reasons. While Mohu may have pioneered the “flatenna” several others have joined the fray. And I reached out to a few players in this space that have kindly provided their least obtrusive indoor antenna offerings for an OTA receptivity showdown. Which will wear the crown of best indoor antenna?

Comparing antennas is an exceedingly difficult task, as our individual locations in relation to the broadcast towers obviously vary in terms of distance and interference (either within the home or the environment). Not to mention, different stations around the country broadcast with differing strengths and frequencies. To make matters even more complex, not all tuners are not created equal — meaning the televisions, over-the-air DVRs, and other devices we each possess will have varying degrees of reception. So your mileage will absolutely vary from mine. Most small, indoor antennas are rated for receptivity in the 25-35 mile range, but those that are offered with amplification can be extended to 50ish.

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tivo-mini-v2

As we’ve reported for several months, TiVo has been poised to release a slightly refreshed Mini … with an RF remote. And, while sources had indicated the folks in Alviso were tracking for a March delivery, the TiVo Store has just been updated with the new DVR extender model. While there could be under-the-hood changes in regards to manufacturing cost savings or performance improvements, we know for sure the remote has been updated (in addition to the centering of “TiVo Mini” lettering):

tivo-mini-rf

The addition of RF allows you to mount the Mini behind a TV or stick it in a cabinet without worrying about remote control line-of-site as you would with the former IR TiVo peanut. Even better, the TiVo Mini’s recent price reduction remains in play (at least thru May) making it an even greater value to both Roamio and 4-tuner Premiere owners — $150 up front gets you both the hardware and Lifetime Service.

nationwide-died

While not quite the annual tradition it should be, we do periodically round up the millions upon millions invested in Super Bowl advertising. And, for me, beyond the string of not-quite-inspirational, downright depressing, and/or dad-centric commercials, the most memorable 2015 spots were Chevy encouraging folks to watch television behind the wheel and seeing Liam Neeson reprise his Taken character … to pimp an iPhone app. Speaking of recycled fictional characters, Walter White and The Dude also made appearances to further offset the overarching negativity. Continue Reading…

roku-tv-home

By way of USA Today and Rob Pegoraro, we’re reminded that while Roku TV provides a whole lot of good, the over-the-top experience remains compromised due to deep-seated fear and loathing amongst some content providers. Specifically, Disney has prohibited access to the WatchESPN app and a raft of Disney-branded channels available … on traditional Roku boxes. And, of course, Roku is clearly complicit as they cozy up to these guys while segregating their hardware offerings. The sad irony is that anti-consumer policies like these leave a number of folks wondering why they bother paying for cable when they may not be able to watch their programming how or where they want it. Perhaps the successor to CableCARD will provide a more sensible path forward. Or maybe all that excluded Disney content will simply find its way to Roku via Bittorrent and Plex.

amazon-echo-sonos

While our home has hosted a pair of Amazon Echo ($99-199) connected-speakers-with-benefits for several weeks, I’ve yet to write much. As my thoughts continue to coalesce, Amazon just hit me with news of an update. Joining the existing I Heart Radio and Amazon Prime voice-controlled apps are Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes. However, whereas I Heart Radio and and Prime Music are native apps that live solely within Echo and the cloud, these newcomers stream to Echo via a Bluetooth-connected iPhone or Android. The addition of voice for transport controls is surely nice-to-have, but it’s not in the same league by requiring another device in the mix and without being able to verbally summon a specific artist or playlist as I do with Prime Heart. Continue Reading…

A few months back, I got into the home automation game thanks to encouragement from Dave and Adam. I’ve experimented with a few different platforms thus far, and particularly like Philips Hue alongside Staples Connect.They work well together.

hue-nest

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